December 16, 2009

Gorgon Stares Over Afghanistan

The Air Force Times is reporting the second high-profile UAV development this month, the first being the official acknowledgment of the “Kandahar Beast.” Wired shed light on the Gorgon Stare in February and now it's out to ward away, as President Obama would say, "evil."

While Pentagon officials remain notoriously mute on UAV and UCAV mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the urge to display its latest high-tech gadgets could be seen as an integral factor to regaining America support.

Robert Marlin, technical adviser for Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. explained the $15 million Gorgon Stare, the evolved form of its predecessor Angel Fire. While Angel Fire allowed multiple users to view a UAV’s feed, the Gorgon Stare broadcasts 12 controllable angles of footage.

Despite its advanced abilities, the Gorgon Stare isn’t the cure-all that it may appear to be. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “I think there is a misperception out there that because it can look at 12 different angles that it will be able to replace 12 Reapers.”

The Air Force Times cites, “Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for example, threw their support behind Gorgon Stare in part for “its potential to reduce the requirement for UAS with FMV and to make the latter more effective,” according to a committee report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.

“That’s just not true,” Marlin said, “but it will be a very powerful tool the Air Force will be able to use.”

Describing the Gorgon Stare as a future keystone for UAV missions, Marlin said the feed isn’t in full-motion, but “motion imagery, which will be like a slow, jumpy version of the full-motion video feed.” Viewing that wider area will allow airmen to “see the bigger picture” and have a better idea where to point full-motion video sensors and direct Predators and Reapers.

In this sense, UAVs and UCAVs will be needed in higher quantities than ever. The Gorgon Stare, even if it provides up to 60 angles in the future, will specify more targets, not bundle them up for group extermination. The US military is going to need more drones.

But let’s not get lost in Afghanistan, where America is testing and evolving surveillance technology for future battlefields - and perhaps beyond. Everything going into Afghanistan isn’t meant for Afghanistan, but the entire world. Think bigger (Brother).

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